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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Maine

In the State of Maine, contract disputes refer to conflicts over the interpretation or breach of contractual terms and responsibilities. Property disputes, on the other hand, occur because of disagreements relating to owned properties, including real and personal properties. These conflicts can either be resolved in the courts or out-of-court using conflict resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration. When anyone chooses to litigate, the District Court and Superior Court are charged with handling such matters under 4 M. R. S. A. § 152 and 4 M. R. S. A. § 105, respectively.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Maine?

Contract disputes in Maine may arise over the provisions of a contract or performance of the contract by the signees. These problems can occur with individuals, private organizations, public agencies, and the government.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Maine

Some of the popular contract disputes in Maine include:

  • Breach of contract
  • Corporate and commercial disputes
  • Purchase and sale agreement disputes
  • Construction contract disputes
  • Real estate and development contract disputes
  • Residential agreement disputes

What is Maine Contract Law?

The Maine contract law regulates the formation and execution of contracts within the state, and when there is a contract dispute or breach, the procedures for filing a claim and damages to which liable parties are subject. Typically, for a contract to be valid and enforceable legally, it must be signed by capable parties, and there must be an offer, acceptance, mutual assent, and consideration (benefit and cause of the agreement).

What is a Breach of Contract in Maine?

In Maine, a breach of contract means a failure, either intentional or unintentional, to meet or fulfill the legal obligations of a contract. As such, a breaching party will be liable for damages imposed by law or the courts. When a contract dispute is to be resolved in court, statutory time limitations specify the number of years within which an action can be brought before the court. For instance, under the Uniform Commercial Code, 11 M. R. S. A. § 725, breach of sale contracts must be filed within 4 years of the cause of action, and as given by 14 M. R. S. A. § 752, all civil claims must be filed within 6 years of the cause of action.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Maine?

Possible remedies for a breach of contract in Maine include monetary damages, specific performance, contract rescission, and contract reformation.

  • Monetary damages are more commonly awarded than others. A defendant could be required to compensate the non-breaching party for damages endured or in cases where the breach was done intentionally and with malice, the court may impose an amount of money payable by the defendant as punishment. The amount recoverable in damages may also be specified in the contract, also known as liquidated damages.
  • In specific performance, the court may order an individual to do or not do something. This type of remedy is often used where damages are not an option. An example of this is in real estate contracts. The parties involved are not released from their contractual obligations or asked to pay damages, but required to complete their obligations regardless of the breach
  • Rescission nullifies the contractual obligations of both parties and attempts to place the non-breaching party in a position prior to the signing of the contract
  • Reformation aims to revise the terms of a contract but not end it, especially when the breach was due to a mutual or unilateral mistake, or willful or accidental misrepresentation

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in Maine?

In civil litigations occurring within Maine, defendants may use specific defenses to question a contract’s validity and be released from contractual obligations. These defenses include:

  • Waiver
  • Duress/Coercion
  • Illegal contract
  • Statute of frauds
  • Accord and satisfaction
  • Statute of limitations
  • Estoppel
  • Laches
  • Fraud
  • Failure to state a claim upon which remedies can be awarded
  • Preemption
  • Impossibility of contract

What are Property Disputes in Maine?

Under 17-A, M. R. S.A § 351, the term “property” refers to any item of value, including:

  • Real estate (land) and anything found, constructed, affixed, or situated on it
  • Personal property (both tangible and intangible)
  • Domestic or captured animals, fishes, or birds
  • Written instruments, including deeds, bonds, wills, contracts, leases, and credit cards
  • Public utilities, including water, gas, steam, and telephone
  • Trade secrets

When any controversy or disagreement results over these items, it is a property dispute. It is possible to resolve these disputes by settlement or litigation. The state’s property law is compiled primarily under Title 33 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Maine?

The following commercial and residential real estate matters often cause property disputes in Maine:

  • Foreclosures
  • Land use
  • Purchase-sale agreements
  • Landlord-tenant disagreements, including leases and evictions
  • Easements
  • Real estate titles
  • Breach of contract
  • Property line and property ownership disputes
  • Trespass

How to Find Property Lines

Generally, property lines are points that indicate where a land legally ends and another begins. Accidentally or intentionally crossing into someone else’s property or building/fixing a structure on that person’s land without the owner’s permission can cause conflicts between individuals, and sometimes, lawsuits. Disputes can also arise over whose responsibility it is to take care of a residential matter; for example, fallen trees or removal of trees. As such, homeowners and buyers need to know the location of their property lines to avoid these conflicts.

The best place to find the boundary lines of a property is on the deed, which will be typically included with other paperwork after a sale. However, these lines can also be viewed on plat maps at the office of a county, city, or town assessor. Deeds and land surveys can be inspected at the local office of a register of deeds per 33 M. R. S.A § 651. Some offices provide online access to these records on their official websites. If no survey plan exists for a property, it is advisable to hire a professional surveyor to find the property lines.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

Individuals who want to hire lawyers experienced in property dispute cases in Maine may use the Maine State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service. With this service, members of the public can get a referral, consult with a lawyer for 30 minutes or less for a $25 fee, and likely obtain representation. It is also possible to call the service at (800) 860–1460 or email for a referral. Email and phone referral services are available from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m during weekdays, except Fridays, and 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Friday. The online service is accessible anytime. This service does not offer pro bono (free) legal representation to the public; however, a caller may be able to obtain information on where to find free lawyer services within Maine. The Maine Judicial Branch also provides helpful Legal Aid Resources for the public.

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